Perhaps the most dangerous pest in Cyprus, termites can tear your house down if not treated by a professional.
Termites are social and can form large nests or colonies, consisting of very different looking individuals (castes). Physically the largest individual is the queen. Her function is to lay eggs, sometimes thousands in a single day. A king is always by her side.
Other individuals have large heads with powerful jaws, or a bulblike head that squirts liquid. These individuals are called soldiers. But the largest group of termites in a colony is the workers. They toil long hours tending the queen, building the nest, or gathering food. As termites live up to twenty feet underground, problems with them stem from the earth. They come into the house through cracks or dampness and feed on wood. Some termites have wings, while others don’t.
Termite Life Cycle
There are 4 types of woodworm in Cyprus. The Furniture Beetle, the House Longhorn Beetle, the Deathwatch Beetle and the Powder post Beetle.
In the larval stage, Powder post beetles can spend anywhere from 1.5 months to 12 years embedded inside wood. Their presence is only apparent when they emerge from the wood as adults, leaving tiny holes behind them. If wood conditions are right, female beetles may lay their eggs and re-infest the wood, continuing the cycle for generations. Heavily-infested wood becomes riddled with holes and rooms or basements packed with a dusty frass (wood that has passed through the digestive tract of the beetles).
The furniture beetle is the most common Cyprus woodworm. This beetle attacks softwoods, leaving 1-2mm exit holes behind it. They will seek out and occupy plywood for longer than any other timber. Damage by the furniture beetle is identified by tiny holes in the surface of the wood. These holes are in fact exit holes, showing that the adult beetle has emerged from and left the spent timber after thoroughly tunneling through it. The beetle lays its eggs on top of the wood, and the grubs burrow and tunnel into it. With active woodworm there is a visible scattering of tiny dust piles on the timber. Structural weakening to the building is possible with the furniture beetle in timbers with a small cross section and there is a lot of damp. This is especially common in old houses.
The house Longhorn Beetle is principally found in roof timbers where it attacks the sapwood of exclusively softwood timbers often resulting in structural weakness. The House Longhorn Beetle prefers unfinished wood like old floorboards and loft rafters in the roof – these are good targets for the beetle, as are damp floorboards, damp loft timbers and old furniture where the polished finish has worn off. The holes and tunnels of this beetle are significantly larger than the furniture beetle.
The Deathwatch Beetle is common throughout the entire island. This beetle viciously attacks large hardwood timbers such as Elm and Oak. Due to its incredible appetite, after starting in hardwoods like these, the beetle will move onto softwoods in a all-you-can-eat extravaganza. The beetle is able to develop extremely rapidly. Treatment must be done by a certified professional immediately.
Items that can be infested by woodworm include any wooden tools or tool handles, frames, furniture, books, bamboo, flooring, and structural timbers – which presents grave danger.